April Book Reviews: Johnny Tremain

When we were really little Becca, Spencer, and I studied the Revolution, and Mama read Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes out-loud to us.  I am studying the Revolution by myself this year, and I just re-read Johnny Tremain on my own.  I did not remember much about it, so it was still very suspenseful!

This book is about a fourteen-year-old boy (well, he is fourteen at the beginning, but I think he is sixteen by the end) named Johnny who is the apprentice of a silversmith.  Mr. Lapham has two other apprentices, but Johnny is the strongest, the smartest, and the most skilled.

Although two years younger than the swinish Dove, inches shorter, pounds lighter, he knew, and old Mr. Lapham knew, busy Mrs. Lapham and her four daughters and Dove and Dusty also knew, that Johnny Tremain was boss of the attic, and almost of the house. (8)

His smith work bringing in most of the money that supported the Lapham household Johnny spent most of his days in the shop, bullying and criticizing the other apprentices, helping Mr. Lapham keep orders straight, and listening to his mistress’ daughters insulting compliments.

Until he burned his hand in an accident in the shop, and was rendered unable to practice his craft.  Once the ‘boss’ of the house, Johnny was then looked upon as a nuisance and begins to look for another job he can do.

Arrogant, ashamed of his crippled hand, left without work, unaccustomed to being an outcast he struggles in this new life.

Those marketwomen who had counted their pats of butter after he brushed past their stands, Mrs. Lapham with her prophecies that he would end on the gallows, had not been so far wrong.  For a little while it had been touch-and-go with him.  If pushed a little farther, he might have taken to crime–because that was what was expected of him. (109)

When he finally found work he was drawn into a whole new circle of people.  He began to pay attention to politics, and met people like Samuel Adams and Paul Revere–he also begins to discover things about himself and his own life.

After that Johnny began to watch himself.  For the first time he learned to think before he spoke.  He counted ten that day he delivered a paper at Sam Adams’s big shabby house down on Purchase Street and the black girl flung dishwater out of the kitchen door without looking, and soaked him.  If he had not counted ten, he would have told her what he thought of her, black folk in general, and thrown in a few cutting remarks about her master–the most powerful man in Boston.  But counting ten had its rewards.  Sukey apologized handsomely.  In the past he had never given anyone time to apologize. (109)

I am glad that I read this book, but parts of it were very frustrating!  It is very suspenseful–and some of the answer do not get answered… yet another great, good-but-not-perfect-ending book! 🙂  It was very real.  Not ‘story-bookish’.

There were also some pretty fierce parts (that I think Mama skipped the first time she read it to us), so kids might want to have a parent preview it.

This is a really good book though, and very well written.  I do not really feel qualified to write a review about this one either–hence all the quotes! 🙂

Hundreds would die, but not the thing they died for. (269)

10 thoughts on “April Book Reviews: Johnny Tremain”

  1. Nice! We have listened to Johnny Tremain on audio. I was frustrating and kinda confusing, but that was a while ago, so I don’t remember lots of it!

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